Miles Away From Ordinary

Kathryn Merteuil was in a very pleasant mood. Her ridiculous brother had just finished declaring war with her and she was looking forward to seeing him get his tight ass kicked. One little phone call and she knew that he would be getting his face punched in. Sure, Ronald was a shy musician, but he had opened up to a considerable amount of passion when it came to Cecile and his many gentlemanly qualities would make him easily manipulated and easily angered. Of course, this was just to put Sebastian down a peg or two. She had an unlimited store of ideas to torment him if he was stupid enough not to relent. Being the gracious human being she was, Kathryn was willing to free him of his declaration of war if he asked nicely. He should know that no one could win against her. The sun seemed to shine brighter and the sky bluer at the prospect of finally having a real victory over the smug bastard.

A brisk knock on her door brought her out of her thoughts. Ronald was calling for her. A wide grin spread across her features. Time to assess the damage.

"Oh Ronald, what is it?" she anxiously asked the man outside her room.

"Kathryn…"

Inwardly, she raised an eyebrow. The tone in his voice wasn't angry or proud, it was sympathetic and cautious.

"You weren't picking up your phone." He stated.

"I didn't want to speak to Sebastian. Did you see him? Is he still a raving lunatic?"

"No… Kathryn… There's been an accident." Could he have used a more clichéd line? Kathryn restrained from rolling her eyes, opting to widen them instead. Maybe Ronald accidentally gave Sebastian a mild concussion. Oooh, maybe something was broken.

"It's not about Sebastian, is it?" she prodded with a childish quiver.

"He got hit by a car." Ronald said as gently as he could. "He's in the hospital. Critical condition… I left as soon as the ambulance came to tell you, but the paramedics looked very grave."

"He's badly hurt, then?" Kathryn asked, feeling a surge of satisfaction. Maybe he broke more than one something.

"You should see him soon. Kat, I don't think he's going to be with us for much longer." Kathryn brushed off the direness of the situation, sure Sebastian was playing her. She didn't go see him, hoping to punish him and make him miss her. It would serve him right. Let him see what he's missing for choosing her. Let him see how he can stand life with just Annette caring about him.

Ronald revisited her house within a few days, carrying the same apologetically grave face. This time, the news failed to bring satisfaction, though she reacted no differently.

She tuned out his apologies and his well wishes until he said, "…But he didn't suffer long, and Annette was with him so you don't have to worry that he wasn't happy. He saved her life. I'm sorry. There's nothing I can say. The car hit him full on… But I think he was happy when it happened. I mean as happy as one can be in a situation like that… I'm sorry."

Kathryn blinked. "Oh. You mean he's dead."

"If you need someone to talk to-" Kathryn's calmness frightened him more then if she had suddenly shrieked and started stomping her feet.

"I'll be fine. You just take care of Annette. I'm sure she's suffering horribly." The woman smiled selflessly and opened the door for him to leave.

"You must be in shock." No one could look like that upon hearing such news.

"Nonsense."

"Don't you care?"

"Of course I do. Thank you for coming. If that's all you have to tell me-"

"Did you not hear me? Your stepbrother is dead. Gone. Killed."

That same cold, detached smile lingered on her face as she let loose a small chuckle. "Yes, Ronald. I heard you. I'll be seeing you." He looked completely blown away as Kathryn shut the door in his face.

Emotionlessly, she made her way to the connected bathroom. It was soundproof and so much more then a bathroom. Kathryn once liked to think of it like a panic room of sorts. There was a partially closed off area that held a small store of food and there was a hidden exit that went underground and led to a place just outside of the grounds. The house was old and had once housed royalty and been used for purposes Kathryn had never cared enough to delve into. Upon finding the alternate exit, she had immediately had it modernized so now it had electricity, temperature control, and a clean hard wood floor. The entire room was rather comfortable and the only room she had ever been in where she would let the reigns of her constrained mask lax.

She entered the room now with quiet poise, shut the door silently and securely behind her, and let out a primal scream. On the counter she had long ago placed a picture of her dear brother with his trademark pout, finding endless entertainment at Sebastian's surprise at seeing such an open sign of affection for him. She had only put it there to see him gape and laugh, but the photo was one of his better ones. When asked about why it was there, she merely said she liked to touch herself to him, causing another twitching, genuinely amused grin to pass his face. This photo she took now and reached into her pocket for a lighter, fully intending on burning out his eyes. The lighter wouldn't light. She chucked it across a wall and it bounced off the counter onto the vast mirror, chipping it and distorting the image. The photo she let fall to the ground as she too slumped over against the floor.

Being alone and knowing that no one would hear her or be able to walk in on her, she gave herself a five minute lapse of control and shoved her fists against the stiff door, banging viscously enough for blood to seep out. The sight of her own blood sent her into a stewing fit of horror and she dropped her fists and unclenched them. Realizing that she was blubbering, she hid her face in her arms, not wanting to see herself cry, not wanting to admit that she was really pained.

Her stepbrother was dead.

This was what war meant, then, she thought bitterly. He knew he would never be able to defeat her unless he resorted to the most extreme thing he could possibly do. He got himself killed just to spite her, just to punish her, just to win. Her chest heaving, her outfit wrinkled and wet with tears and make-up, Kathryn's five minutes were over. She stood up, released a ragged resounding sob, and splashed water on her face. Without looking at herself or allowing another show of emotion to emerge, she abruptly left the washroom. As quickly as it had come, her humanity had left her. She had always prided herself on her emotional light switch and it was good to see that it was still up to par, even in unpleasant situations.

That's all this way. Unpleasant. Kathryn repeated that to herself as she changed. But she knew if that was the truth she wouldn't have needed to waste a single minute of true grief. Swallowing the sick feeling in her throat, Kathryn reached for God. And then she fell to her knees again and wept. Five minutes… that's all she would need. Five minutes to erase half a lifetime of companionship and stimulation. Five minutes to blot out the fact that she had just lost one of her most compelling reasons to wake up in the morning, to keep playing her part as responsible socialite. Five minutes to make her brain shut the fuck up about how he was the only thing keeping her from slitting her wrists when she actually let herself think about her feelings once every two weeks. That's all she would need. Five minutes.

By the time the memorial for her dear brother came along, Kathryn had managed to tuck away the knowledge that she had been broken down by Sebastian, even if for just five minutes. She was strong. She did not cry. She did not need anyone, she didn't care about anyone. Sebastian was weak. She wanted to hate him, and a part of her did for doing this to her.

Her speech was a deliberate jeer at everything he was. She sought a little personal revenge, and that speech was it. She hoped he was there somewhere in hell, glaring at her for making him sound like such a loser. He really had become one in the latter days of his life.

For the most part, the people in her life were shocked at her composure. Her parents were in town for the first time in almost a year and both of them would have been immensely suspicious as her non-reaction but she made it a point to avoid them. They were perfectly aware of how 'close' she and Sebastian were and her mother was partly relieved to see her daughter out of the shadow of such a socially immoral relationship. Sebastian's father was sorrowful in a dignified manner, eliciting uncertainty as to whether he was either holding back his grief or forcing grief that wasn't in existence.

People kept expecting Kathryn to break down and shatter and because things were always easier when people were kept complacent in the belief that they were incredibly intelligent people who could read people with surprising accuracy, Kathryn did the brave soldier act. She leaned on a few choice people and sobbed into their open arms, knowing full well how this would instantly boost her standing in the school even further up.

Of course, Annette had to drag her good name and hard work through the mud. The tear she shed after the journal copies were passed around was not the beginning of a full blown breakdown but merely the presence of a great shock. Sebastian had gone his entire life without showing one person that journal, he had held it as close to him as if it was his heart or brain or dick itself. It figured that he would give it to her. That journal was the only thing left in the world that would still carry on his spirit and Kathryn had, admittedly, been looking forward to ransacking his room for it. It really shouldn't have surprised her that he gave it to that insipid bitch. It was just one more insult over the heap he had piled onto her during their lifetime together. Holding onto the photocopied version and not altogether pleased with the content, she still wished that she could hold the real version, the copy that he had held, the copy that he had leaned over and touched and protected so intensely. Annette didn't deserve it. The fact that it given to her right before he died only cemented Kathryn's feelings that he had died just to make her life as hellish as possible. She didn't think he hated her that much as to actually sacrifice his life to make hers unhappy.

The little part of her that spoke up whenever moments like the five minute bathroom scene popped up and was becoming harder to suppress of late and was whispering that it wasn't anything to do with her. He had died for Annette and Kathryn wasn't a factor in the most important decision he would make in his life. But that voice was wrong. It had to be.

Kathryn managed to slip away unnoticed after the school saw into her secrets. One would think that the person who was under public scrutiny would have been watched more closely, but people were fools and she got home before any one could restrain her and do something stupid like throw her in a rehab centre. She was going to run away. It was an insanely childish plan but she her own money that her mother couldn't touch, her father felt honour bond to give her anything she wanted and hated her mother enough to never think of telling her mother her whereabouts if she went to him for help, and there was really no other alternative if she was to retain her dignity. Her world might hate her but she could find a new world.

The chip in her bathroom mirror made her shut the door again and, once more, yell her lungs out. It wasn't fair that she had to have this happen to her. She was in control. She didn't need anyone. Everyone loved her.

Nobody loved her.

She had no real friends.

Her parents were borderline repulsed with her.

He was dead.

He was dead and filled with enough hate to make her believe death would be better then living here.

He was dead and he had thrown her to the wolves even though he knew he wouldn't be able to watch her destruction. Just the knowledge of it was enough to make him welcome death and devalue his life.

Good Lord, she hated him.

He hated her.

The actions he had done, the harsh words in his journal… The journal did her in. He said a lot of crap to her on a regular basis but the journal housed his inner most thoughts. He was never lax about its security and therefore would have no worry about her seeing it, which would mean that the words weren't written to hurt her. They were what he honestly thought of her in the pits of his soul. That stung.

Kathryn leaned over her sink, squeezed her eyes shut and tried not to think of the world, tried to make her feel numb like she always was able to in the past.

"I brought you soup." A wide-eyed servant said to her. Mai Ling had fled the house after Kathryn slapped her upon seeing the woman attempt to clean and clear out Sebastian's room. "Mr. Tuttle was by and he said that it would help you." This new servant was new and still under the impression that she could suck up to her. And she wasn't aware of the stay the fuck out of my bathroom rule. Oh, yes, pity her.

"I don't want soup." Kathryn said in a deadly cold voice. She was about to break and she would prefer to do it without prying ears and eyes present. "I don't eat."

"I thought it might make you feel better over-"

"I don't want soup. I want SEBASTIAN! Can you do that for me? You stupid timid freak, can you? Can you make sure he writhes in hell for doing this to me? No? Then take your fucking soup and fuck off!" Kathryn ripped the tray out the servant's arms and threw the bowl at her, splashing hot soup across the woman's chest. Over the woman's cries, Kathryn stated heatedly, "And in case that wasn't clear? You're fucking fired!" She slammed the door and growled; yanked open her medicine cabinet and made to locate some pills. Unfortunately, she had needed more than usual in the last few days and the last bottle she had seemed to have gone missing. She had reached the end of her Coke store and knew that no dealer would risk selling her more now that the whole fucking world knew she used. She wanted to dance on her damn brother's grave, she wanted to break the urn that cased his cremated body and defile the ashes. He did this to her and even now, the thing that bypassed her defences and made her turn into an overly emotional mess was that he was gone. His horrible actions couldn't hurt her. They were either the symbols of the fact that he did care about her or they represented how much he hated her. Which one it was no longer mattered now that he was gone. Collapsing on the floor, Kathryn quieted her rage and struggled to control herself. Gone. She wanted to rip out her eyes for leaking out tears again, she wanted to break her arms for shuddering uncontrollably, but for all her harsh admonitions to herself, nothing could quell the fact that her heart, believed to be nonexistent even by her, was beating again after years of being deadened. He always was the only person that could make her feel and she wanted it to stop. Kathryn wrapped her arms around her knees and let her make up run, let her clothes be destroyed. It didn't matter today. She would not break down… She was stronger than this… She didn't whimper. She didn't cry. She didn't care. Goddamn him!

"'Kathryn, I'm sorry?'" A lowly sardonic voice asked incredulously. "Seriously. You've out bull shitted yourself."

Her head whipped up, her body sprang erect, and she took a quick step back, her eyes wide with real disbelief and even just a hint of fear. Every wall was down, every emotion written plainly on her face and she inwardly grasped for her mask, her autopilot defence.

"Oh, damn. Here I was hoping that you delivered that self righteous ramble earlier today because you somehow figured out my plan and knew I was there to watch. The look on your face clearly says otherwise, which hurts me, dear sister. This must mean that was honestly how you chose to say goodbye to me. I thought I deserved better." Sebastian scolded, a flash of unadulterated amusement filtering through his piercing eyes.

Kathryn shook her head and took another step back.

"Look at you. Coward. I thought you were more intelligent than this. Can't you put it together? It isn't that difficult, really." He cocked his head, goading her shamelessly.

She seemed to finally gather her wits and her face slowly dissolved back into the cold mask. She walked inches away from him and felt him up as if worried he wasn't real.

"I'm. Not. Dead." He enunciated each word slowly, talking down to her as he would a young and stupid child.

Kathryn shoved him back. "How did you do it?" There was no awe or surprise or pleasure in her voice, only a brisk coldness. She had kept silent up to this point to ensure stability and emotional control over her voice. He had seen her real reaction for a minute, and that was far too long of a time.

"Does that really matter? It was painfully simple, actually. There's nothing people won't do for a bit of money." He looked bored at having to explain things and frankly he was surprised that she hadn't figured it out. It irked him that she was so controlled at his memorial, and gratified him a hundred fold to see her break down. She rarely let even him witness such a show of emotion. Of course, she didn't let him this time either.

Kathryn didn't have to ask how he got in. He knew of the alternate exit quite well and it was possible that he snuck in here days ago. The underground pathway was temperature controlled and comfortable and he could have staked out there for as long as he wanted, since she had been too preoccupied to use her good sense and realize anything was off.

"Why? I have a confident guess but I'd rather hear what you have to say." She said coolly.

Sebastian mock frowned. "I spring up from the dead and you don't even have a hug for your dearly loved brother? Why, Kathryn, one would think that you didn't care if I was dead or alive. But we both know that's not true. I was here when you tried to burn off my face, and I was sitting right here when you started shrieking like some crazed lunatic. Sis, you do care and nothing you can say now will rectify the harm you've already unwittingly done to your dignity."

She didn't even blink. "Why?" Her voice was even, her eyes betraying nothing.

"Well, if you must know, I woke up in the hospital and found that my only visitor in the time I had been there was Annette. Four days I was out cold in life threatening conditions and the only one in my life that gave a damn was Annette. I thought that my father would have come back from his business trip, even for one day, to check in on me, but no. I had expected him to come from across the country, a man who I am aware holds nothing but ill disguised loathing for me. It should go without saying that I expected to see you, my only sister, see me from across the city. Annette told me that Ronald told you to come, told you what had happened. I was possibly dying in a hospital bed and only one person cared enough to visit me on what could have been my last days on earth. This irked me. Seeing as though you didn't seem to care if I lived or died, I thought I'd show you what it would be like for you, for all of you, to live without me. Not so fun, is it, Kathryn? I thought it would be outrageously hilarious for you to think I died, and wondered vaguely if you would be guilty. I wanted to see if you did have a heart. And, my dear, you've just shown me how very weak you are. Just as weak as all the other girls you mock so toxically." Sebastian stood in front of the mirror and idly fixed his hair, his expression still showing little but boredom and mild amusement.

"You faked your own death just to ruin me." She dully stated.

"Oh, my poor self-centred Kathryn. Yes, it was mainly because I wanted to see your reaction that I made the world think I was dead, but the journal I gave to Annette because I genuinely wanted her to have it. It had nothing to do with you." Sebastian shook his head, the amusement growing in his features so that he was now staring at her through the mirror with an unbearably patronizing, all powerful expression. He was incredibly pleased with himself. He had finally unravelled her, and he was not going to give up a single second in revelling in it.

"You got hit full on by a car, enough to be comatose for four days. How did you get out of the hospital and hide out here looking like nothing happened?" Her tone held only polite curiosity, as if she was humouring him by asking.

His eyes flashed. He had won and she was trying to pretend like she hadn't lost. But he had seen her cry and blubber and wail like an animal. He had won and her cold mask would do nothing for her now.

The amusement disappeared from his features and his mouth hardened. "Do I look like nothing happened to me? Is that what you see?"

"Oh Sebastian. You're angry." She smiled, sarcastic concern written in her voice. She was gaining the upper hand again. It always went this way. Whoever showed the most emotion in any talk between the two of them was always the loser. His emerging anger could distract him from his indifferent mask while she secured hers. Maybe she had come into the washroom an emotional mess but she always won. He was cracking and she was stronger than him.

Sebastian knew full well that she would grasp his show of emotion and run with it. He knew that emotion showed that he was affected by her. But he had seen her at her worst and he was sure that for all her smiles and sarcasm, she was frightened that he had seen it. With that knowledge in mind, and with more information he had yet to tell, he was confident that he would come out on top. He couldn't help being pissed. One doesn't get hit by a car without garnering damage and it had taken him a lot of self control to make his body do what he wanted and appear like he wasn't in pain.

Allowing his eyes to cloud further with anger and not bothering to relax his tense stance, Sebastian repeated, "Do I look like nothing happened to me? You never did notice anything, you blind bitch." And he stiffly moved his arm to his shirt bottom and tugged it up. His entire abdomen was wrapped with bandages and for the first time, Kathryn realized with a sickening horror that he was favouring one leg and he wasn't casually leaning against the counter- he needed it for support. She had been too focussed on appearing controlled before to look closely at him, too shocked that he was there at all, but now she saw the faint bruises that lined his face, covered up expertly with everything at his disposal. If one examined his forehead, a mainly hidden gash started at his forehead and disappeared behind his hair. When he shifted his hand to life up his shirt, his sleeve rolled up to reveal needle jabs and the start of a deep blue bruise. He had managed to look healthy through the means of all that money could do for him but if she could still make out his damages with all the covering up he did, she could only guess how hellish he looked with nothing to hide away his injuries.

Her face didn't change. She still looked indifferent but she took a step closer to him and moved her hand over his face, gently moving away the carefully applied cover up. What was revealed made her grind her teeth together and bite down on her tongue to prevent a gasp of horror. The bruises on his face marred his complexion and she finally saw how hurt he was.

Kathryn still didn't react. She let her hand drop and stepped back. "You're a fool to leave the hospital so soon just to gloat over your genius. With any luck, you'll die anyways. You always were so over eager to battle with me. You're weak."

Sebastian's mouth fell open in indignant dismay. He harshly grabbed her arms and, not even bothering to keep his voice down, said, "Goddamn you, Kathryn! Why can't you admit for once in your pathetic life that you care about me? Why can't you stop being such a cold bitch for two minutes and act like a fucking human? And don't laugh and say you're stronger than me, that you don't care, that's bull shit. I saw you in your huddled little corner. All this indifference is a lie, and I see right through you. So why can't you just say what you mean for once in your life?" He was frustrated and didn't let his grip on her arms loosen. They clamped so tightly around her skin that she was in pain and knew that she too would be bruised come tomorrow.

She tried to shove him back, tried to dig her nails into his chest, but even injured he was stronger than her and he shook her angrily.

The room was soundproof. No amount of screaming would evoke help from anyone. They both knew this. They also both knew that she had too much pride to revert to the typical 'girl' fighting tactics which consisted of the knee to the member and the foot stomp. And she knew he wasn't letting her go until she crumbled. Well, she didn't crumble. She wouldn't.

"Why can't you admit to yourself that maybe you just love someone who honestly doesn't give a fuck about you?" she said with annoyance, her expression still so damn indifferent.

"That won't work anymore, bitch. Why can't you just fucking tell me the truth?"

"The truth is I was crying for my reputation, not for you, you fool."

"Oh please." Sebastian hollowly laughed. "You're a wreck without me. I was there when Ronald told you I was dead. I was there when you chipped that mirror and cried yourself into a rage. You were crying for me. You're just too weak and insolent to admit that you're not as strong as you've made everyone believe. You need me."

"I hate you and I wish you were really dead." She spat out. Her words didn't make him release her and she thought she would bleed soon if he didn't loosen his grip.

He stared directly into her stubborn eyes, making her see every bruise on his face until she couldn't look anymore. He shook her until the hair mussed around her face and she bowed her head, her eyes ashamed. That wasn't enough for him. He didn't want her to simply admit she was wrong. He wanted to win. He wanted to defeat her.

Sebastian knew her well, but even his determination to crush her hadn't prepared him for the event when it actually happened. After he hurled another few choice phrases at her that struck her where it hurt, she couldn't hold back any longer and burst out crying. At the sight of the tears, he was so surprised that he dropped her.

Once his hands were off her, her tears stopped instantly. "Idiot." She sneered. Whirling around, she made to stride out the door. "I'm going to have you on assault charges and you're going to stay the hell away from me from now on."

"You can't put assault charges on someone who's dead. And you and I both know that staying away from me would kill you." He said, slipping in front of her and barring her exit. She turned again and darted for the other exit. She made it under and Sebastian tried to chase her. He was normally faster than her but his injuries made him slow and in trying to run he stumbled and fell at the last step. Wincing, strength of will wasn't enough for him to make his body obey him and get up. He had lost her, his mind screamed out forlornly. He would never get an opportunity to get her anywhere near as vulnerable. He had lost her.

But she had heard his exclamation of pain and, despite herself, had turned around. He looked so much in pain and so pathetic and angry and wretched that she stopped and walked back to him.

Before her newly awakened conscience could step in, her natural reaction was to say mockingly, "Now, say sorry." At his look, she expanded. "You were rude." He tried to stand up again in fury but again his pain kept him from succeeding. She noticed how his jaw tensed as he clamped down to keep from grunting and at the grimace he was fighting to conceal.

He had scared her earlier. He had hit her once and she believed he was on the verge of repeating it. But she had the power back now. Except, looking down at his hurt body, she didn't care anymore. She actually felt bad for him… and regret for making him this way.

Uncertainly, she said, "Are you okay?"

"I'm half dead. No, I'm not okay, you selfish whore!" He snarled. She sighed and helped him to his feet. He had to lean heavily on her and she knew how much it ate him up to have to do that. "Go on. Sneer at me and my weakness. Tell me how you're right and how I'm a pathetic loser. I am just your toy, after all, aren't I?"

"Goddamn, you put a lot of store in that comment of mine, didn't you?" she raised her eyebrow.

His injuries had already stripped him of his grace and he didn't bother an attempt to reconstruct his mask. Sebastian glared openly. "I believe that's rather obvious."

"You jumped in front of a car because I told you that you were just my toy?"

"I jumped in front of a car because I didn't want Annette to die. Jesus, grow a soul." He snapped. Kathryn's own jaw tensed and he noticed her eyes darken. He had to remind himself forcefully that playing nice was necessary right now, that he would never get her this vulnerable again. Forcing down his expletives, he added with plain, grudging reluctance, "But yes, Kathryn, I was only there in the first place, I was only with her in the first place, because you said I was just your toy."

"Look at you, being all honest. Aren't you all quivery that I'll use it against you?"

"Of course."

His frankness startled Kathryn, and she rewarded his honesty by bestowing him a smidgen less of frost. "I've said worst things to you. Way worse."

"I never thought you really meant any of those things. Not until this time." He grunted. He needed to up his pain meds. The doctors had warned him against leaving so soon but he had been confident that he had healed sufficiently. Damn pride.

"Well, I didn't mean it this time any more then I meant it any other time." She said, annoyed at his line of thinking. "This is what we do to each other. Surely you must know that by now, Sebastian."

"You told me you were scared I was replacing you with Annette. You told me you thought I loved her more then you. And when I told you I loved you far more then I could anyone else, you called me your plaything. Excuse me if I didn't see this as a harmless, meaningless comment." Sebastian looked away from her, hating himself for being so weak.

She was getting angrier by each word that he uttered. "You bastard. You told me you didn't want to sleep with me before I did any of those things. You have never, not once, said you didn't feel like sleeping with me. Just a few weeks ago I could have called you in the middle of you having sex with a pair of gorgeous twins and you would have left them, right that second, if I told you I wanted to have sex with you. What was I supposed to think?"

"I meant it when I said I loved you."

"And I mean it when I say that you hurt me by not wanting to sleep with me. I don't just let it go when people hurt me."

"You would think a heartfelt I love you followed by the proclamation that I left the only woman who could make me happy for you would overrule the fact that I didn't want to have sex with you. I wanted sex when I told you I loved you, as you'll recall. And you shot me down and threw back my emotions, laughed me out of the room and said you didn't fuck losers. This, coming from the woman who fucked the painfully virginal and completely boring Ronald just because you had nothing better to do. What the fuck is wrong with you? I gave up my dignity and self respect for you and you crumpled it and you have the gall to be mad at me?" Sebastian's eyes were almost black with rage.

"I called you a loser. That's about the tamest, least insulting thing I've ever called you." Kathryn pointed out.

"Oh? If you had called me a bastard, an ass, anything else… I'm not a loser, Kathryn. But maybe you were right. I am pussy whipped. Just not by Annette." And with that, he decided to suck it up and wrenched himself out of Kathryn's supporting hands and started to walk up the stairs. When he almost fell down them again, Kathryn seized him securely in her hands and yanked his face to meet hers.

"You made me want to kill myself by faking your death. I hope you understand that. You made me honestly want to die. You made me cry and pound my hands against the door until they bled. You hurt me more then I ever could have hurt you. Nothing I ever did could make it forgivable for you to do that to me, do you hear me? Nothing on earth could possibly have hurt you more then the hurt I felt when I thought I would never see your pathetically pussy whipped face again."

"You made me actually attempt to kill myself by telling me you didn't feel a thing for me." He yelled back furiously.

"Well you're a moron, Valmont!" Kathryn finally lost control again and screamed back. "A moron! They were just words! You lie to me all the time and if I believe a word of your lies you never let me forget how gullible I was. But if I lie, I'm a villainous devil who almost led to your death. That's not logic, it's not!"

"How can I get it through to you that some words aren't meant to be lied about? How can I get it through to you that your words hurt me more than that fucking cab did?" Sebastian shoved her off of him and used the wall for support instead, panting in heavy gulps of air.

"I hate you!" She blurted out, sounding like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum. "I wish you died!"

"I already knew that, didn't I? You didn't even care enough to see me in the hospital!"

"I didn't think it was that serious."

"Liar."

"I wanted to punish you for leaving me for her."

"I went to her because you pushed me away, you hypocrite. What was I supposed to do? I got completely and utterly trampled on by you. I'm not a total idiot. Since my first choice shoved me off what choice did I have but to go to my only other choice?"

"I'd rather be alone then without you. You should have felt the same damn way."

"Ronald." Sebastian reminded her.

"I didn't care about him. You obviously did care about her."

"I was dying and you didn't care."

"You wanted her more then me."

"I called out to you. The second I woke up. I called for you, moaned for you, pleaded for you. They said you weren't there. I asked them to wake me up when you came back but they said you wouldn't be coming 'back' since you never came in the first place. I was dying and all I wanted was to see you and you didn't care enough to be there." The anger was still very prevalent in his eyes but his voice was giving way to anguish and Kathryn was affected by it. "I didn't want anyone more then I wanted you."

"Then why did you tell me you loved her?"

"I thought I did. I was wrong. And you just wouldn't let me rectify my mistake. Why did you refuse to sleep with me, Kathryn? Did you really like to see me fall apart that much?"

"If I slept with you, that would have been the end of us. The bet would be over. You wouldn't give a damn about me anymore. You only wanted me for the chase and I knew that, I knew I couldn't ever let you have me or I'd be discarded just as quickly as everyone else. And I couldn't stand it. I wouldn't survive that. I had to win. I had to keep you. And to keep you, I had to control you." She admitted.

"You idiot. I wanted you for you. Your body is only half as intriguing to me as your mind and only a quarter as desirable to me as your heart." He shut his eyes. "But of course, you only understand what you yourself know. And you only wanted me so you could control me. You didn't want me. You wanted me to want you."

"And you would never want me if you realized I wanted you back. You wouldn't respect me anymore. You would lose interest." Her voice was becoming subdued and he knew that the floodgates of her soul had been unleashed.

"I could never lose interest. But I can't stand here, doing everything you say, acting like a demented puppy and pining for you worse then any hormonal teenager could ever do. I couldn't do that forever, I couldn't stand getting stung over and over by you, couldn't be there knowing how you couldn't feel for me."

"I hate you." She repeated lowly, childishly.

He stared daggers at her eyes. "And I fucking love you. That's what makes me wish I actually died, you whore."

The sheer fire in his eyes made any manipulation on his part obviously nonexistent and she realized with sudden certainty that he had meant it, that he had always meant it.

Still, "You only think you do. No one could say that and mean it, not after knowing what I am."

"I am you. I do know you and I do not need you telling me what I can and cannot feel. I said I loved you and I'll say it again, after all, there's so little of me left to give I might as well just deplete it all. I've said it to you time and time again and you have never once said it back, showed any sign that you felt it back. Even at my death you couldn't say it back." And with a resigned sigh, Sebastian stomped off, forgoing the stairs and striding as quickly as his body would allow in the other direction.

Kathryn caught his arm and made him stay still. Her face was deathly white and she looked on the verge of real tears. "I'm not strong and I can't bear to be weak, Valmont. I'm not really anything. I can't be honest or I'll be hated, and I can't feel anything because no one has ever felt for me. I can't believe anything you say because you've said this to every girl in Manchester."

"No I fucking haven't. Only you. Only you. I had to love the one girl who would never love me back. I'm done. We're done." He shook off her arm and tried to leave again. Kathryn reached out and grabbed hold of fabric, tearing the back of his shirt. He whirled around, completely spent of emotion but still finding it in him to be annoyed.

"I can't say it. I can't tell you what you want to hear. You know me. You know I can't."

"I can. I can, for you." His voice was anything but understanding.

"I can't but damn you, I want to. I want to. I can't- you can't- don't leave. Please. Don't leave." And the frosty princess broke down again, gushing tears that weren't crocodile and sobbing involuntarily. He didn't look fazed. He didn't want to fall for her act again. But he didn't move, either. Kathryn took this as a good sign and threw her arms around him, holding him for security, holding him so he couldn't slip away again. He could feel her sobs vibrate across her body and onto his and his hand slipped into her hair comfortingly.

"You've never hugged me before." Sebastian noted in awe.

"I can't do this without you. I can't live properly. And I'm just as weak and stupid and annoying as all the rest because you've done it to me to. You've made me feel, you've made me admit it. And I hate you for it, I really do." She wept against his chest, her fists balled and hitting him rather painfully. "I love you too, Sebastian. Why couldn't you just see that without me having to say it?"

"I needed to hear it." He said simply, his entire posture relaxing at her words. He wiped away her tears and savoured the experience of being able to be the strong one, the comforting one, the protective Knight, for the first and likely last time in their relationship. She noticed his eyes clearing, saw his mouth soften, and tried so hard to make herself indifferent again. But she couldn't and she knew she never would be able to around him again.

"I'm sorry I hurt you enough to make you jump in front of a car." She said flatly.

"I'm sorry you felt so unlovable as to actually not believe me when I told you how I felt."

"I don't feel unlovable."

"You're not."

"I know I'm not!" she stated.

"Kathryn?"

"Yes?"

"Just shut up and enjoy the moment for once in your life." She smiled and let him hold her, let herself be comforted.

"Valmont?"

"What?"

"If you ever take my words so literally again, I'm going to have to poison you."

"Or you could be less biting in your words."

"Never." She said. She was silent for a moment, and then, "Sebastian? Say it again."

"So you can make fun?"

"I won't. I won't again. Please. Just tell me again."

"I love you, Kathryn."

She kissed his lips and smiled in the gentlest way she knew how. "Thank you."

"Aren't you going to say it back?"

"You know I feel it back. I'm not going to ruin all my principles and say it constantly." She said archly.

"I got hit by a car last time you didn't say it back."

"You're being a drama queen."

"And you're just stalling."

"I'm not saying it back. You will not use your injuries as leverage. I already made a fool of myself."

"Why does admitting that you love me make you feel like a fool?"

"Oh, now you're insulted."

"Yeah, I am. Just say it."

"I won't."

He glared at her. "You are too obsessed with having power."

"And you're not? I'm not submitting myself to you."

"I don't want to win anymore. I'd appreciate it if you'd show me the same consideration."

"I can't let word get out that the school bitch has a heart, you know. That journal you so willingly gave up screwed me over. It's odd to see how you described me in it considering your declarations of emotions so contradictory of the written word."

"Mmm. About your rep being ruined because of my journal… Annette doesn't have my journal and she never did." Sebastian mentioned, finally getting distracted to her relief. A small smirk reappeared on his face at her perplexed expression. "Did you really think I'd spend my entire life sheltering my journal just to hand it over the moment a girl was being difficult?"

"But the photocopies…"

"Oh, I did give her a journal. It just wasn't my real one. I had made a decoy a while ago that I left around just in case you decided to go snooping. It was perfect for winning back Annette since it looked just like my actual one and was particularly unflattering in all mentions of you and sickeningly sweet in Annette's section simply because it was always meant to sting you for being nosy." He drawled, feeling rather pleased with his cunningness.

He could tell she was warmed by the admission, could see that she had been unhappy with the entry for its own sake and relieved that it wasn't real.

"Everything you do is so contrived." She shook her head. "So. You still have your journal, then?"

"Of course. And you're never going to read any of it." He grinned.

"Even now? You've already told me everything, haven't you?"

He looked at her with amusement. "I'd never tell you everything. You taught me that keeping some things to yourself is absolutely vital."

"You don't trust me, Sebastian?" Kathryn pouted.

"I never could make up my mind on that subject."

She chuckled. "You are such a mother fucking fairy. And I love you for it."

"Was that so hard?"

"Yes." He laughed and winced at the laughter.

"Your injured thing might give me a Florence Nightengale appeal." She commented.

"Naughty nurse outfit intact?"

"If you're a good boy." She grinned. He kissed her again, gentleness gone, and it was as if the two melded into one being. Was this happiness Kathryn felt? Was this love and inhibition and fearlessness? All these things led to pain and the possibility of being severely hurt. But maybe that didn't matter this time. Maybe winning didn't matter as much as being able to play the game with Sebastian. The two pulled apart and his playboy smirk was back on his face, her indifferent smile back on hers. They were back on default to all the rest of the world, but now neither of them would ever be able to fool the other for the rest of their lives.

And they both liked it so much better that way.


AN: I've got another Sebastian-lives story in the works but I'm thinking I should probably cool down and tear myself away from the computer or at least the fandom for a few days, haha. Once I get into something I tend to drown myself in it. CI's not mine. I couldn't help myself. I am so into angst, I figured a happier one was demanding to be made.